In this Q&A video chat, Jessica Stephenson discusses the common differences between applicant tracking system user access levels. In particular, she reviews manager and assigned user ATS access in detail — including feature availability and ideal timing for involving new users in the selection process.
Hi, I’m Jessica Stephenson and welcome to another episode. Today we’re going to focus on best practices for determining the appropriate level of user access within the applicant tracking system for the many stakeholders involved in your hiring process. And we work with small and medium-sized businesses, so this question often surfaces during the implementation process. And, while commonly people are familiar with an administrative level user, or the super login I Iike to say, they might not be so sure of the different types of user access levels for people outside of the HR department, in particular.
So usually HR staff members will be administrative level users within an applicant tracking system, and sometimes I see that expand to include owners or CFOs at smaller companies, as well. And the administrative level user can certainly manage applicants across all business units that are established within the system, and then do things like change settings, add or edit job listings, access reporting, leave HR-visible notes so that lower level users can’t see those notes, and then add and edit other users to the system.
When it comes to employees that should access the system outside of the human resources department, I divide those into two categories. The first one being manager-level users, and the second being candidate-specific assigned users. So, with manager-level users, they can access all applicants across their own business unit or units, and for your organization that might mean a department or a geographic branch, so on and so forth. Larger organizations that are rigorous about training hiring managers on the recruiting process may wish to optionally allow these manager-level users the ability to add, edit and post job listings, as well. However, many smaller organizations will tend to leave job edits to those in human resources and lock down that access so that managers can’t touch job listings. In addition, in general, manager-level users in applicant tracking systems can’t access reporting, change settings or add or edit users within the system.
Now candidate-specific assigned users are what I would call “bare-bones” access level users, in that they login and they don’t see any other dashboards like jobs or settings or users, and they will only see candidates that have specifically been assigned to them by other users. Think “minimalist” when you think of this type of user, and know that it’s ideal for organizations that are ready to empower non-HR staff to make applicant notes and decisions within the ATS…as opposed to via email correspondence back and forth with HR, for example. The other compelling benefit of making wider use of this very restricted login type is that in a reputable ATS, it should support a complete view of the applicant record including: who at any point in time has looked at that applicant record; to whom it has been forwarded via email; the email correspondence history with the applicant; and, any time someone has been an assigned user for that candidate so that they could review the candidate’s credentials. This benefit is especially critical for those organizations that are subject to affirmative action plan compliance, as well.
So now depending on the applicant tracking system in use, these two broad user level categories that I’ve discussed will likely have various toggles available for further customization, as well, especially at the manager level login. So for example, an administrator may choose whether or not that manager can initiate job requisition requests; or leave notes and view notes on the applicant record; update the EEO information for a candidate; and, optionally edit the status or disposition assigned to a candidate, or the date on which it was assigned.
In terms of timing, and what I mean by that is, how soon various non-HR users would start using the system during a specific hiring process…that will of course depend on the level. When a manager-level login is created, because they can access all applicants across all business units, and sometimes even job listings, as soon as their login is created they are going to be able to at any time go in and view details. And so, certainly the organizational expectations and culture surrounding hiring managers’ participation in the selection process will help dictate when those hiring managers should actively start to participate and perhaps leave comments and assign status codes and so forth.
Now, with more restricted assigned users, their scope is more limited since they are only going to be able to start taking action once candidates have specifically been assigned to them. So if you choose to exercise the most control and/or wish to make the review process as simple as possible for those non-HR folks, then the assigned user is the ticket.
And with both types of user-level access, the great aspect about using an ATS and not making them administrative level users is that you don’t have to have any worry about them inadvertently accessing sensitive information related to perhaps the candidate’s employment history, any kind of red flags that might be on their record that you’re not ready for other people outside of HR to see, and that sort of information…because you can lock that down. And so, the timing of their access becomes not as important a factor as it might be otherwise.
So, above all, I want to reiterate the value and certainly the security piece of mind organizations will see when they handle all applicant documentation, including screening activities and correspondence with candidates, within an applicant tracking system…not via email, for example. I hope you enjoyed this episode of video chat and please stay tuned for answers to further questions. Thank you!